“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, We have all heard that Peter Drucker quote before. My experience is that culture is the determining factor if an organisation is going to be successful, or not.

Much of an organisation’s strategy and direction for success is determined by the leader’s “personal culture”. So, this post is not about organisation culture it is about “personal culture.”

In thinking about how to begin as leaders, it’s important to reflect on how our personal culture can be impacted, as part of an organisation. This is especially true when starting a new role in a new organisation. A great metaphor for culture, I heard, is that culture is like the water you swim in. Have we been swimming in muddy waters, clear water, or shark-filled water?

When our personal culture becomes cloudy or compromised, then the water we swim in becomes equally cloudy.

When we transition to a new role, leaders should take time to reflect and spend a little time working on their personal culture.

Let me explain what I mean by culture. It has a lot of meanings, but for the purposes of this article, I will take a simplified view.

Culture is a way of life…

Going by the above definition, my personal culture is made up of:

  • Your personal values: What do you value the most? E.g., money, relationships, creativity, compassion, excellence, achievement, health etc.
  • Your personal beliefs: What do you believe about yourself? What do you believe about the world?
  • Your personal rituals: What do you do every morning, every night? What are your rituals for celebration? What are your rituals around failures?
  • Your personal language: How do you talk to yourself? What are the most common words used in your inner dialogue? Are they words of wisdom, kindness, or critique?
  • Your personal expression: What are the most common emotions you express? How do you express love, anger, fear and sadness? What do you feel about and towards yourself most often?

That’s not an exhaustive list but it is enough to give an abstract view of what I am talking about.

In my experience I have seen organisations do activities around their culture, identifying their desired state, but then fail to translate that into visible actions. Without making culture visible, organisations will usually fail to achieve their desired state. So how will you, as a leader, align your values and make them visible to the world?

If you would like to talk more about the challenges of Digital Transformation or my thoughts on organisational culture change, contact me via the link below.